§ 3.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport)
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make further provision for Service pensions and in particular to provide pensions for widows of non-commissioned Service men who retired before September 1950.This subject deserves a detailed speech, but in deference to the occasion I shall make the very shortest summary. Widows of officers in the Armed Forces have been entitled to pensions for many years. When the widows of non-commissioned Service men were given a pension in 1952 there was a cut-off date of 1 September 1950. Widows whose husbands retired after that date were given a pension. Widows of men retired before that date were left out.
By 1972 it was estimated that there were about 30,000 pre-1950 widows and that the cost of providing pensions would be about £4 million a year. There is overwhelming sympathy for the cause of the pre-1950 widows. My Bill converts that sympathy into action. It may have made sense in Nelson's day for the widows of officers and widows of men to be 460 treated differently. I believe that it is utterly abhorrent to the spirit of this age that this distinction should be continued.
In commending this Bill to the House, I ask all hon. Members to do what they can to urge this cause upon their respective parties, so that pensions will be given to the pre-1950 widows with the unanimous support of the House and the country.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Peter Viggers, Mr. Philip Goodhart, Mr. Alan Lee Williams, Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles, Mr. Stanley Newens, Mr. Ian McCormick, Mr. Dafydd Wigley, Mr. Emlyn Hooson, the Rev. Ian Paisley, Mr. Julian Critchley, Mr. Richard Crawshaw and Mr. John Ovenden.